TWHS: Site d’Oudong, Cambodia

After visiting Phnom Da, next we headed back past Phnom Penh to what is definitively the most concisely described Tentative World Heritage Site we’ve ever seen on the UNESCO website,

Site d’Oudong
 

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

 

Le site d’Oudong est situé au Nord de Phnom Penh, sur la rive occidentale du Tonle Sap. Ancienne capitale du Cambodge au 17ème siècle puis de 1740 à 1746, Oudong est une des nécropoles monumentales de la royauté.

OK, we won’t even bother translating, even without the benefit of a Canadian high school education we’re willing to bet you can puzzle through French well enough to grasp that.

Let’s turn to Tourism Cambodia for a more evocative description:

About 40 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh along National Route 5, a mountain topped with the spires of stupas rears from the plain like a fairytale castle. This is Phnom Oudong, at one time an ancient capital.

As the capital, it was called Oudong Meanchey; Oudong means noble or excellent, and Meanchey means victory. From 1618 until 1866 it was home to a succession of kings, deposed from the former capital of Longvek by the invading Thais. The mountain itself runs from southeast to northeast, with a low saddle in the middle. Khmers say it has the shape of a Naga the magical multi-headed serpents that guard the Buddha. Along Route 5, signs point the way to silversmithing villages, a legacy of the past when kings and nobility used to come to the Tonle Sap to bathe and the people would offer them delicate gifts fashioned from the precious metal. Turn left at the large billboard, and at the very base of the mountain is a flurry of picnic huts. On weekends, hoards of people descend on the area from Phnom Penh to eat roast chicken, fish and palm fruit in the cool of the thick forest…

Or you can look it up as Udong Mountain on TripAdvisor.

The main attraction is the view from the top of the mountain with the stupa above there, but on the way up we have a warning for you: watch the trees overhead. We didn’t, and were completely surprised when this snake came flying out of them and proceeded to chase us out of his territory:

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

Don’t know about you, but having flying snakes attack us was a completely novel experience.

In fact, the idea of a snake deciding to launch an air assault on us was so unfamiliar, at the time we assumed that someone with a delicious sense of humour must have thought that throwing a snake at the funny looking tourist would be a good laugh…

… until we looked it up later and found that this is a Golden Tree Snake and why yes, they do in fact attack from the air:

These Golden Tree Snakes are also known as Flying Snakes. They glide very well, perhaps the best of any snake in the world, and even better than some squirrels and lizards. Golden Tree Snakes are a lime green (งูเขียว) and black checkered type patterned snake. They are tree dwellers but can climb anything, even walls. They appear to have a favorite food – the Tokay Geckos that reach sizes of 12 inches long in adulthood. They are frequently seen eating Tokays…

Wouldn’t have thought it was possible to mistake a troll for a gecko, we’re considerably larger than 12 inches for starters, but apparently this particular tree snake was confused.

Snakes aren’t the only local wildlife to watch out for, either; there’s a good population of monkeys around too:

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

Those however did not actively attack us, so, y’know, on the Oudong Wildlife Threat Scale they’re not anywhere near the flying snake squadron.

Any-ways, once you make it through the zoo to the top of the stairs, there’s the Instagram-ready stupa up there we led off with a peak shot of up there,

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

 

and a very nice panoramaic view of the countryside of which this is the only place that’s not flat far as the eye can see,

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

and inside racks full of Bhuddas for your devotionals:

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

Wandering around the hill there’s some older stupas as well,

Site d'Oudong, Cambodia

and at the bottom there’s a good collection of roadside restauranteurs to visit, as well as a small memorial containing a heap of skulls — apparently this was a killing field in the Khmer Rouge days.

At a little under 50 km from Phnom Phenh, this makes a good day trip, half-day trip if you hurry, and while it’s definitely a tourist destination it’s not crushingly popular like the more famous temples, so we recommend everyone consider it if they’re heading through the capital!

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Alex

I go places.

Comments

  1. […] back to Cambodia today: we’re heading east from Mount Oudong over to the town of Kompong Cham and its local Tentative World Heritage […]

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